GENEROSITY WHICH FLOWS FROM A HEART FULL OF FAITH AND TRUST IN DIVINE PROVIDENCE
(A biblical refection on THE 32nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [YEAR B] – 8 NOVEMBER, 2015)
Gospel Reading: Mark 12:38-44
First Reading: 1Kings 17:10-16; Psalms: Psalm 146:7-10; Second Reading: Hebrews 9:24-28
And in His teaching He said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
And He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And He called His disciples to Him, and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.” (Mark 12:38-44 RSV)
In ancient times, widows (especially those without living children) were often visited by misfortune and poverty. Although widows were often poor in earthly possessions, scripture points to some who were rich in faith. The widow of Zarephath was willing to part with her last measure of meal and oil to make a loaf of bread to feed a stranger (1Kings 17:10-16). Through her faith, God performed a miracle through the prophet Elijah.
Similarly the widow at the treasury in Mark’s Gospel put all her holdings, two copper coins, into the collection for the temple. Jesus commented that her offering, although small compared to the offerings of others, was greater since she had “put everything she had” (Mark 12:44). Both widow’s generosity flowed from hearts full of faith and trust in divine providence.
Jesus contrasted the widow’s detachment from material goods with the pride of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were concerned with worldly honors and riches to the point that they would “devour widows’ houses” (Mark 12:40). The widow was able to give everything she had because she valued the things of God over the things of this world. She exemplified the attitude that Jesus pronounced in the Sermon on the Mount: “… lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).
Such a spirit of self-giving is only possible through an interior transformation to God brought about by faith. As Paul wrote: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). The widow was able to make a sacrificial gift because her heart and mind had been transformed by the love of God.
God promises to reward that generosity which springs from faith. Again, Paul said: “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2Corinthians 9:10-11).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, strengthen our faith and enable us to be generous with our time and our possessions in order to build up YOUR BODY, the Church. Amin.
Jakarta, 6 November 2015
A Christian Pilgrim